After two games in the Canada/Russia series, Kole Lind was one of the best players on the WHL’s club, and it has Vancouver Canucks fans buzzing.
Out of Swift Current, Saskatchewan, Lind is a prospect that has been labelled as an extremely well-rounded hockey player. Jeff Marek of Sportsnet agrees and said, “(Lind) joins the list of top forwards coming out of the Rockets organization like Nick Merkley and Dillon Dube. He’s a playmaker who can also find the back of the net and isn’t shy about playing physical either.”
Lind was drafted 33rd overall in the 2017 NHL entry draft by the Canucks and is currently underway with his fourth, but third full, season as a Kelowna Rocket.
Lots to like about his game: size, speed, work ethic, & ability to create chances w/ skill & vision.
— ISS Hockey (@ISShockey) March 16, 2017
Lind: The Exploding Rocket
Just two seasons ago with the Rockets, Lind put up only 41 points in 70 games — not terrible, but not statistics that are exactly turning heads. However, last season during the 2016-17 campaign, Lind exploded with 30 goals and 57 helpers in 70 games. Impressively, 24 of those goals and 60 of those points were at even strength. He led his team in assists, points and plus/minus (plus-36) while finishing second on the team in goals.
So far this season, he’s tearing up the WHL and once again leading his team with nine goals and 19 assists in just 17 games — currently, he is seventh in league scoring. His production made it an easy call to add him to the WHL’s roster in the aforementioned Canada/Russia series alongside his teammate and previously mentioned Dube.
Lind and Dube are tied in the tournament for goals and looked impressive in the WHL’s two games with the Russians, primarily in Game 1, which resulted in a 7-0 victory for the WHL where Lind was the story and led the team with two goals and an assist. Lind’s speed and growing size make him very difficult to contain, and he was certainly a handful for the Russian defenders.
Cracking the Canucks’ Lineup
With his dominance in the WHL and his stellar play in the tournament, I’d expect Lind to be offered an NHL contract at the end of this season by the Canucks. With the Canucks in their current rebuild, Lind would be a great fit in the organization.
The 18-year-old concurred and was quoted in saying, “I was really happy getting drafted here because (the Canucks) are definitely in a stage where I feel I can fit in sooner rather than later.”
However, with a healthy crop of talent in line before him, including names like Jonathan Dahlen, Elias Pettersson and Nikolay Goldobin, I wouldn’t expect Lind to see any solid NHL action for a minimum of two years.
It’s an exciting time for the Canucks and their prospects in this rebuild but it’s also a very competitive and stressful time. Lind is one promising player out of many looking to find a home on the Canucks, and it won’t be an easy battle. Skill is in abundance so Lind will have to set himself aside from the pack.
Lind’s biggest strength is his versatility and well-rounded play, which gives him have an edge over most prospects in that regard—particularly players like Dahlen and Pettersson, who are on the smaller end of the spectrum. If I was to compare him to a current Canuck, I’d say Jake Virtanen, who is also equipped with good physicality, speed and skill. Combining skill and physicality has been a recipe for success in the NHL since the league’s conception, and the Canucks could undoubtedly use more of it.
If Lind can maintain his level of growth, there is not a doubt in my mind that he can be one of the Canucks’ best wingers in the next handful of years.
Kole Lind (@Kelowna_Rockets) opens up the scoring for team WHL. What a shot. #CANvsRUS pic.twitter.com/CKVPUkqNJi
— Shayne Pasquino (@shaynepasquino) November 7, 2017